City Streamlines some commercial sign rules


Business owners in Santa Clarita will be able to install slightly larger commercial signs and put signs in a wider variety of locations, thanks to tweaks of the city’s sign ordinances approved by the Planning Commission last month.

City council has final say on the changes, and is expected to vote on them this month, according to Jason Crawford, the city’s director of economic development.
“The proposed sign ordinance update is intended to streamline existing sign regulations to better support current city goals for business development while continuing to implement the city’s community design and safety standards and protecting the aesthetic environment,” Crawford said. “

The city will now allows business parks to have identifying signs. Image courtesy of City of Santa Clarita.

The changes are not a comprehensive overhaul of the sign ordinance, but are limited in nature and designed to streamline the approval process for business signs. The city’s planning department will review and often approve signs that fall within certain limits over the counter without a fee.

Businesses seeking larger signs or those that in other ways go beyond other aspects of the ordinance trigger a more detailed sign-review process.

“We’ve had businesses come in with signs that are a couple of inches over the limit,” Crawford said. “It’s usually due to franchise agreements that specify sign dimensions, and that can lead to a sign review that can cost up to a thousand dollars and take a week to complete. We’re trying to streamline that by easing the limits.”

Crawford cited as an example two adjacent stores in the Creekside Place shopping center on Valencia Blvd. that is anchored by Barnes & Noble. Next to the bookstore are a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream shop and a Firehouse Sub Shop.
At a glance, the signs appear to be about the same size. Not quite.

“Ben & Jerry’s sign is 24 inches high and was approved over the counter,” Crawford said. “Firehouse’s sign was three inches over the limit, because of the red border, and had to go through sign review.” Under the proposed revision to the regulations, both signs would be under the limit and approved.

The revisions to the sign ordinance add a new sub-category of signs known as business park identification signs. The new business park identification signs will allow larger business park developments (those occupying at least fifty acres), such as the future Needham Ranch project, to install signage to identify those developments as well as major tenants within those developments.

In March, the city met with the SCV Economic Development Corp., Valley Industry Association and SCV Chamber of Commerce for feedback and comments on the proposed changes. All three groups endorsed the changes.

“Finding ways to further streamline the sign-approval process and providing signage opportunities for more businesses is greatly appreciated by our membership,” VIA CEO and president Kathy Norris wrote in a letter of support.

SCV Chamber board chairman noted that over the years, the Chamber has heard from some of its members that “there were some areas of the City’s Sign Ordinance that could be more flexible and favorable to the business community.” Musella said the Chamber was “thrilled to hear that the City is taking these concerns seriously.”

Holly Schroeder, president and CEO of the EDC expressed thanks for the new signage opportunities for business park signage, noting that the SCV is “home to high-quality, high-paying jobs and the new business park identification signage category will give our business parks the opportunity to highlight those attributes to our community.”

In April, city council members Bob Kellar and Bill Miranda, who sit on council’s economic development committee, reviewed the changes in advance of consideration by full council in June.

Highlights of Santa Clarita sign ordinance revisions
Sign type Current regulations Proposed changes
Primary wall sign Maximum 30” height for main sign or logo, up to 24” for remaining text (for free over-the counter approval. Larger signs subject to sign review process). Maximum 36” height (for free over-the counter approval. Larger signs subject to sign review process).
Secondary wall sign Up to 2, facing parking lot or street, above an entrance only. Up to 3. No longer must face parking lot or street or be above an entrance.
Supplemental wall sign Up to 4 for ground floor retail establishments, along the main elevation, if establishment has a minimum frontage of 150 feet, and minimum gross floor area of 10,000 square feet. Removes frontage and square footage requirements.
Special event banners Text can include name of business or name of event only. Text can also include:

– products for sale

– phone number

– web address

– prices

– other similar calls to action

Business park identification No existing standards. New subsection of signs for communities (like Valencia, Newhall).

– minimum 50 acres

– signs permitted at/near entrance

– along major/secondary highway only

– maximum 15’ high

– up to 4 signs, with up to 4 tenants on each

Source: City of Santa Clarita


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